The Town of Federalsburg is located on the Marshyhope Creek in
the southern-most part of Caroline County, the heart of the
Eastern Shore of Maryland, which has long been known for being a
land of hospitable and gracious living.
The Nanticoke Indians were the first known inhabitants around
Federalsburg. In 1682, James and William Wright came from England
with one of William Penn's colonies and settled on the Marshyhope
Creek, the headwaters of the Northwest Fork of the Nanticoke
River. When the forming of Caroline County was completed in
1774, this land fell within its boundaries. By an act of the
General Assembly in 1792, the southern boundary was extended to
Northwest Fork Ford because of the newly erected bridge at
that spot, which was the division line between Caroline and
Already, the possibilities of this point were foreseen, where
cross-country traffic forded the river, and a store was built
there around 1789. This was the nucleus of a small village,
which so greatly owed its growth to the bridge, that the town
was called the "Northwest Fork Bridge", or "The Bridge" until
early 1812, when politics took its naming in hand.
The Federalist Party was strong on the Delmarva Peninsula, and
a rousing mass meeting was held at "The Bridge." People came
from far and near, the Militia drilled with all the pomp and
ceremony of military glory, replete with drums and fife.
Prominent speakers of the day used all of the gifts of oratory
to foster pride and rekindle the enthusiasm of a dying party.
Such emotion of that day demanded an outlet, and out of
this, the Town was given a new name, Federalsburg.
Probably Federalsburg's earliest industry and certainly its
most picturesque one was shipbuilding. The surrounding white
oak forests supplied all of the necessary building materials. As
the water was too shallow for these ships to be launched at
Federalsburg, keels were laid at many different points in the
southern part of the town. Upon completion, they were conveyed
to Brown's Wharf, a landing four miles farther down the river.
From there, they were launched, laden, and began their career as
bay and river trading vessels. This industry ceased at
Federalsburg sometime before the Civil War.
River traffic began with Baltimore, as with some other small
towns on the Chesapeake. Heavy scows were loaded with goods
and pushed down the river by four or five muscular men using
long poles. At Brown's Wharf, they were reloaded onto schooners
and other sailing vessels and sent up the bay.
Besides shipbuilding, work in the town centered around the
mill dam at its northern most extremity. The saw mills there,
later known as the "Idlywild Mills," converted logs, floated
on high tide, to lumber and then sent it downstream and on to
Baltimore. Fleece from the countryside was processed into yarn
and wheat was ground and eventually made into "Maryland
Biscuits." As a means of furnishing power for grinding wheat
and corn and for generating electricity, the dam was used
continually until the last mill burned in 1916.
Before the Civil War, there was little cross-country travel except
to deliver mail and transport passengers to their destination,
and these trips were done by stagecoaches. After
the Civil War, daily trips were scheduled from Bridgeville to
Federalsburg and then from Cambridge to Easton. The Seaford and
Cambridge Division of the Pennsylvania Railroad was opened for
traffic on October 12, 1868. This date marked a new era for
Federalsburg, for it is the railroad, with its
refrigeration accommodation, which has made Philadelphia, New
York, and other northern cities the markets for the perishable
produce of our fine gardens and orchards.
Today, agriculture is a major portion of the industry in the
area. However, Federalsburg is rapidly being discovered
and there is a noticeable influx of people, expansion and
development. New industry growth is fast becoming a reality.
The town has planned for controlled growth, and its citizens
are dedicated to see Federalsburg prosper. Amidst this growth
however, old-fashioned traditions and hospitality prevail.
Federalsburg is known as the "heart" of the heart of the